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Art in the dark

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(L-R) Julianna and Lenore participate in a hat making workshop with Sarah Peckham (middle) at the Aged Care Hostel in Ballan, in preparation for the Black NIte Black Lite event. Photo – Helen Tatchell
By Carol Saffer

Ballan businesses and shops on Inglis Street will turn their windows into showcases of light and colour from dusk to dark during one week of cold midwinter nights in June.
From Saturday 16-23 of June (5.30-10pm), the Wombat Regional Arts Network once again will celebrate the Winter Solstice, organising the Black Nite Black Lite event.
Artist and WRAN member Sarah Peckham said whilst White Night is becoming popular in Melbourne and Ballarat, Black Nite Black Lite is also about engaging the local communities.
“It is a celebration of local artists, community groups and traders transforming our streetscape shop windows with black UV fluorescent lighting.
“Our inaugural event last year saw families out walking together and enjoying the very colourful displays, at all times of the evening.”
Ms Peckham said events the not-for profit art organisation hold is usually about making, as well as looking at art.
“Anyone can join in,” she said.
“The Black Nite event shows what lots of local talent can do with leftover and recycled materials. We have many individuals putting in time and energy to physically make it all, and then install it.”
The Ballan Lioness club donated $1500 to support the event this year, along with the Ballan Post Office and Farmers Market.
“We do it because it’s fun. Working together, making something beautiful to share with others. It puts smiles on peoples faces,” Ms Peckham concluded.
While most of the shopkeepers on Inglis Street have assigned their windows to local artists, some are taking on the task of doing it themselves.
Zest Café and Ballan Bakery are creating their own installation while the Commonwealth Bank’s display is being created by local school children.
Cartier Travel owner Elsa Bonnet said last year was a great event for businesses in the main street.
“Although we have only a small window it was very beautifully created by artist Isabelle Dupre.”
Instead of having a light installation Ballan Post Office owner Andrew Smith said he will have a piano on the street with Gordon music teacher Myrawin Nelson leading the Gordon Gospel Choir on the opening night.
D&M Traders’ co-owner Dean Myers says last year’s event was amazing.
“It totally changed the town. Regardless of the cold, to see people out and about on the main street each night of that week created a totally different atmosphere in our little town of Ballan.”
The towns cafes will offer refreshments alongside coffee vans, sausage sizzles and a hamburger van.
In the Mechanics hall the Ballan and District CWA branch will warm up locals and visitors strolling along Inglis Street with soup and sweets from 5.30pm.